Expecting The Unexpected

Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "O Holy Night"1 (Lyrics)

Luke 2:10-14 – And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased." (ESV)

As we approach the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem those many years ago, let us stop for a minute and look back at our past experiences of Christmas. Many of us have childhood memories of participating in Christmas pageants. Whether we were a wise man, a shepherd, an angel, or perhaps playing the parts of Mary and Joseph, those memories will always be with us.

Christmas Eve services have always been a time of celebration, but at times, the unexpected happens. One Christmas Eve, as worshippers gathered for the 11:00 p.m. service, they were advised to leave their vehicles running, as they would not likely restart when the service concluded. The temperature was -35°C (-31°F) that night. As we walked out of the church, the ice-cold air around the vehicles was lit up by the white exhaust and gave the feeling of new light in our midst.

Another Christmas Eve, the Sunday School put on a play. Part of it was behind a sheet with a light shining from the back so that all that the audience could see was shadows. The theme of the play was about how God replaces our hearts of stone with hearts of flesh. Part of the play included heart transplant surgery, supposedly performed on me, the minister, with my part being played by a stuffed bear. Unexpectedly, for anesthetic, they knocked him out with a hammer! The point of the play was that God, Who came down in love at Christmas, fills our hearts with His love. After the surgery, it was revealed that Jesus was — and is — the surgeon. A doll, representing Jesus, was brought out from behind the sheet, from the shadows into the light. It was clear that Jesus offers everyone a new heart at Christmas.

Then, there was the night when the children were singing, and one girl, whose costume required that she wear a tea towel on her head, leaned over too close to a lighted candle, and unexpectedly, the towel caught on fire. Everyone's heart stopped! Fortunately, two volunteer firefighters were present and rushed to the front and put it out. She was unharmed. No one forgot that Christmas miracle.

Perhaps, as you are reading this, your own memories of unexpected Christmases past have come rushing into your mind. The sights, the sounds, and the feelings of Christmas are unforgettable moments that are part of who we are.

This Christmas, as we gather to worship and celebrate the birth of Jesus, let us look for the unexpected. God might give you a new heart or a special memory to share with someone you love.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, as we celebrate Your birth once again, may You cause us to remember with gratitude that You are the Holy One from God Who has saved our souls. Amen.

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About the author:

David Hooper <theskypilot@pm.me>
Prescott, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks for the wonderful memories, David. Merry Christmas.

    Thank you for sharing this encouraging devotional with us. Blessings.

    Amen! Thanks for sharing your beautiful writing as well as a beautiful heart!

    Amen David! May your Christmas be Merry and bright in the light of His love.

    Thank you for sharing your heart at a time of giving. Life is certainly full of the unexpected! Keep sharing!

    I pray that, in spite of forecast of blizzard conditions, we will be able to gather Christmas Eve to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

    Thanks for this devotional, many memories of Christmas pageants, they brought the people of the neighbour together to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Blessings.

    Thanks for your devotional this morning, David. I hope everyone has memories of such Christmas pageants, performances, cantatas, etc. You reminded me of years past and love that carries forth today.

    Thank you, David, for your devotional writing today. Yes, Christmas does bring a reflection of the celebrations we have had in past times. The birth of our loving Lord is truly the best gift God has given us and honouring His birth is a special delight at this time of year. Blessings for your writing and may you enjoy a wonderful time celebrating our Saviour’s birth.

    Great devotional. It really is true that if you look for the positive (unexpected) you truly will find it and be thankful. I loved your memories, and it did refresh some of mine.
    Thanks for sharing and wishing you a Merry Christmas with lots of the “unexpected”. Blessings.

    Hi David:
    Nice to hear from you via this devotional since you left our Presbytery. You have an incredible store of stories to share from your many years in ministry. Thank you for sharing a few more that speak to our hearts during this amazing time of year as we celebrate Christ’s incarnation.

    David – this past Sunday, our children filed into the main section of the church building to sit quietly before their pageant began. Joseph (8) took one look at the assembled crowd and bolted. He had a complete meltdown. A shepherd was hastily recruited to fill in. Mary did her best to reassure her partner, but the lad looked as though the responsibility rested very heavily on his shoulders. So many memories arise as we
    contemplate Christmases past.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Merry Christmas
    Thank you for a quick trip down memory lane. Great memories and made me think of a Christmas concert. Mom was in hospital after giving birth and dad got us 4 off to the church and of course we were not dressed up so when my friend saw me and saw how bad I felt about not having a dress on she had a solution. We ran a few blocks to her house, and she changed her dress for slacks and blouse and back we went and enjoyed our event. That was 60 years ago.
    God bless and thanks again.

    Merry Christmas Dave.
    As a daily reader of the PresbyCan Daily Devotionals, I like to guess who the author is as I read through it. For some reason, I felt this was penned by you.
    Thank you for this message.
    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and all the best in the New Year.

    Thanks, David. I have family visiting this week so we have been remembering past Christmases as well. But we all celebrated on Christmas Eve at church, even the ones who would have preferred to be elsewhere!

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